CRISTIANO DA MATTA ( ...
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had one of our engineers in Denver before in a rental car but as most of the track is in a parking lot we didn't get much of an idea about the track. Of course the work we will do on Thursday will be very important. Also all of the information we have from the organizer of the event - the radius of each turn, the length of each straight - will be very important because we have a simulation program that this will be used for. Usually we use the simulation program before we go to each venue and usually it's pretty accurate and helps us sort out gearing and other basic things. With two new races in a row at this stage in the Championship, it's important to unload the cars and be competitive right away. The Havoline team showed in Montreal that they had prepared well because we were competitive right away. Historically speaking, the team has a very good method to prepare themselves for going to places they have never been. Every time we go to new tracks, it's a bit of a question mark but I'm very confident we will be fine. Before we were just taking the Championship one race at a time but now we are starting to think more about being conservative and making sure we collect some points everywhere we go. At the beginning of the season, you could be more aggressive to gain some points but now we are switching to a little bit more of a conservative approach so we can make sure we collect a good amount of points. We still have to push hard in qualifying and in the race because the CART FedEx Championship is so competitive that no lead can be big enough."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL/Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We're certainly energized by our win at Montreal last weekend and hopefully Team KOOL Green can carry our great results over to Denver. We have always done well at new venues and I've been particularly lucky on the street courses. I'm pretty confident heading into this weekend and I'd like to be the first to win here too. I had a chance to tour most of the track this past July and I'm sure it will be a good race. The track is very busy, there's not much time for a driver to rest. Denver's mile-high elevation will affect the aerodynamic grip of the car but because there are transitions from asphalt to concrete, we will also need to find the right amount of mechanical grip."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "From what we have been hearing, the Denver race is going to be an outstanding addition to the CART schedule. Denver is a great sports city, and I'm sure the fans are going to turn out in large numbers to see what we have to offer in the CART series. As a driver, you can't help but be excited going into that type of environment. This is another opportunity for us to attract fans to our product and show that it's not only top caliber but also very accessible to the fans. Not being able to finish the race in Montreal last Sunday was a major disappointment, especially with it being the first time we've raced in our hometown in the CART series. Team Player's badly wanted to reward the fans for their tremendous support. But I don't expect to have a letdown. I'm usually able to block the last race out of my mind and focus all my attention on the next one. And we're going to have to find a way to score some big points because there's only six races left and now it's crunch time."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Scott (Dixon) and I were out here last week and we were able to make some laps on the circuit. It's going to be a neat track to race on. Although we were only going half the speed, places like turn 5 are going to give us a chance to overtake. We really need to get a good finish this weekend to stay in the championship race. (On Denver) The city is beautiful, it's definitely a place that I'd like to live in. The climate and the mountains are awesome. It should be a great event."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think the speeds will be slower than most of our street races due to nature of track and the tight turns but it will definitely be difficult on the equipment. The brakes could be a problem due to brake wear and the temperature. It will be a test of man and machine. When I went to the IronMan Training Camp in Boulder, Colorado, a few years back (June 1999), I cycled, ran and swam at the higher altitude. Yeah, you notice the difference a little bit but I don't think anyone will have a problem. These days, you have to be in good shape to race these cars at this level. Having said that, the altitude will be a little more demanding on man and machine. Apart from that it will be a huge event like the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It's a new event so it's not like we have old data to refer to but it's the same for everyone. We have run well on this type of track so I'm pretty confident. I'm looking forward to the event and I think we will run well."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I had a chance to take a ride and get a first hand look at the Denver track when I was in town for a press conference before Mid-Ohio. One feature I think the fans will really like is the long backstretch which I think will give us a chance at some overtaking. Passing is always at a premium on the street courses so it is crucial that we qualify well. We have done very well on the street courses this season, especially at Long Beach and Vancouver, and I think we can continue that success this weekend. The crew has been working really hard and the fact we have been able to finish every race this season is a testament to how good a job the Gigante crew is doing getting the car ready every week."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Denver is going to be another new experience but it's the same for everyone because none of us have done any testing on the Denver street course. But we've run at quite a few new venues in the last couple of years and it doesn't take long to get accustomed to a track. I've noticed that there are at least a couple of long straights on the Denver street course and that should lead to some passing. The first turn after the start looks quite tough, and clearing that without incident is going to be one of the early keys in the race. Team Player's has come up with some good set-ups for the street-course races that we've had so far. Even when we've had some problems the guys have been great at identifying what the problems are and they've come up with some solutions very quickly. Overall, the car has been quite reliable over the last stretch of races, and that has helped us to be in the points for nine straight races. But being in the points is one thing and winning races is another. I know that all of us at Team Player's want to get to that next level, and maybe it will happen in the 'Mile High' city."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm looking forward to going back to Denver. It was a great market for CART when we raced there in the early '90s. The crowds were huge and enthusiastic, and it was a great setting for a Champ Car race. After the success of the Montreal event last weekend, I'm looking forward to Denver and I'm hoping we get the same response. For Team Motorola and all the CART teams, we'll have some issues with the race car due to the high altitude but we've been working hard with our engine partner, Honda, to be prepared."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Going to Denver is exciting for me. I've raced in the city twice but that was way back in Indy Lights and it was on a different course, so that won't give me an advantage. I think the track will be great, Dario was able to tour it over the summer and he said that he liked it. I think we will be able to put on a good race. We scored some points last weekend and we're intent on continuing to run near the front so we can add some more this weekend. Just like every weekend, I think qualifying is going to be important. Team KOOL Green is going to have to unload a fast car so we can concentrate on tweaking the setup to run for the pole and then go for the win."
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's been a frustrating season so far. Most of what has happened to us this year has been out of our control. And that happens in racing. But, we've been bitten by the bad luck bug a lot this season, and I'd love to get on the winning track this weekend in Denver."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "We are getting better and better with our Shell car. Ford has worked hard to get the traction control back to its previous level. That has helped our engineers get back to the chassis settings we had earlier in the year like at Long Beach. We aren't there yet with the Long Beach kind of car but it is much closer. I think we had a car that was capable of making the podium at Montreal. It's been a tough year for us and we think getting back to way our testing went in the winter. The Shell Grand Prix of Denver is a big race for us obviously with Shell as our major sponsor too. I didn't race in the Denver event back in the early 1990s but I have driven the new circuit and it should be good. There are two to three really good passing zones and the racing surface seems smooth. Coming to the high altitude in Denver poses many problems for the engineers and crew. The engines run much different and braking problems do occur with the lighter air. I think you'll see a lot of different brake ducts and radiator openings for this race on all of the cars. It will be a new experience for a lot of people including me. But I think the Denver fans will be into the race and, with the Long Beach people running the event, it will successful too."
SCOTT DIXON (#44 Coors Light Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's great to have a company like Coors on board for the Denver race. The car just looks fast, even when it's standing still. I'm proud to carry their colors next weekend to show our appreciation. I can't wait to get this thing out on the streets of Denver and try to bring home a victory for Team Target and Coors. I was here last week and turned a few laps in the pace cars. It's going to be a great race."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Denver is another brand new race for us on a brand new track in a brand new place ... for me, at least. I know CART had some races there in the past and they were pretty good events, from what I've heard. I do know that I'm really excited because we've had some pretty good momentum the last four races, and this is going to be a very important weekend for CART and for my sponsor Pioneer. Except for our mechanical failure at Mid-Ohio when we were running third with 14 laps to go, we should have four top-four finishes in a row. To be honest, that's the way I thought the season was going to go from the very beginning, but we had problems in the first several races, which was very surprising and very frustrating. But now we have our act together, and we just want to keep on going. Last week was really a surprise because I really wasn't expecting to do so well on Sunday in Montreal. But we just kept pushing and pushing and we ended up with another podium finish. That's just what we need to keep doing is working hard and pushing, and hopefully we'll have an even better surprise by the end of the day on Sunday in Denver."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "This is a new track for everybody which means we are all at the same starting point. I have seen a map of the circuit and it looks a little bit like Houston and a little bit like Vancouver. It looks interesting. We've had a good car on the street circuits this year so I think we will have a decent car for the first practice session, which is really important at a new circuit. You can definitely have an advantage if you have a good car for the first outing, which is the way it should go for us this week. I have never been to Denver but I have heard a lot of good things about the city, and I am looking forward to going there."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had a difficult time last weekend, and hopefully we left our frustrations behind in Montreal. I know CART raced at Denver years ago, but that was before I came into the series. I attended a media day in Denver a month ago and had a chance to tour the circuit. I think it is going to be a spectacular race. Denver is a great city and an important market for not only our team but CART as well. We have a lot of fans there and I think they will see a great show. We started out the season strong [Fernández scored two poles and a podium finish in the first four events] and hopefully we can end it strong. Physically, I am getting better day by day after the accident in Vancouver. I am looking forward to proving what this team is capable of on the race track."